Am I one of the nine?
Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers: Luke 17: 11-19 (ESV)
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." 14 When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
Some scholars have compared the impact of the disease of leprosy in ancient times as being like our present-day AIDS. However, leprosy was an ailment for which the Bible had prescribed quarantine from the rest of society (Leviticus 13:45-46). Consequently, lepers were outcasts and the ten victims of this disease had to call to Jesus from a distance as society had decreed they could not approach a non-leper. Still, they cried for an act of mercy (Luke 17:13) and in response Jesus told themto “go and show yourselves to the priests.” The implication was clear to the lepers. A person, who had been healed of an infectious skin disease, was told in the Law to show himself to a priest so that he might be certified as cured. He was then to offer the prescribed offering to God (Leviticus 13:2) and then he became able to be admitted back into social and religious life.
However, surprisingly although ten were healed only one returned to give thanks. Jesus then asked a question which should resonate with us today: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:13). Surely each of them were delighted to be healed so he could only again be part of society but only one returned to give thanks!!
Although we may shake our heads in wonderment that only one former leper returned to give thanks, what about us in our daily life? Do we stop and give thanks for our gifts even though they are no doubt less dramatic than those of the lepers? Surely there are events in each of our daily lives that are worthy of rendering thanks! The hymn, “Count Your Many Blessings”, comes to mind. You probably recall its chorus: “Count your many blessings - name them one by one – and see what God has done”. Do we follow this advice or have we become so accustomed to our blessings that we overlook the many gifts that come our way daily or have we become so used to receiving them that they no longer evoke a moment of thanks? If we were requested to list even some of them we have received during the past few days or weeks, could we do so?
A few years ago I read a short article entitled “Thank You Notes to God”. Its author was in the process of writing thank you notes for gifts she had received as birthday presents and decided that God should also be a recipient of a thank you note for the daily gifts sent into her life. Consequently, she established the practice of keeping a daily record of her blessings. Some the entries she cited would be common place for most of us: A good night’s sleep; A phone call from a friend; Recovery from a recent mild illness; A beautiful day: and time to listen to the birds in her backyard. Think how empty our lives would be without these daily blessings!!
Since reading that article I have kept a record that I call “Daily Delights”. One item that would delight me is that one of the readers of this devotional would begin to record his/her blessings and be better able to see what God has done! Perhaps, if one did so, we wouldn’t have to wonder, “Am I ‘one’ of the nine?”